Socorro High baseball team hits low point

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Socorro High School baseball coach Kenny Gonzales was hopping mad.

T.S. Last/El Defensor Chieftain photo: SHS first baseman Julio Peguero tracks down a foul ball during Tuesday’s game. He was unable to come up with the catch.

His team had suffered the embarrassment of being no-hit in front of its home crowd in a District 3-3A loss to Cobre on Tuesday. They made numerous errors and a few other mistakes that don’t show up in the score book. The 10-0 loss by mercy rule in five innings was the Warriors’ fourth straight loss.

But the coach wasn’t so upset with his players. It was a call by the umpire on a Cobre steal attempt in the fourth inning that raised his ire.

The throw from catcher Dominic Montaño appeared to beat the base runner, but the umpire called him safe.

Gonzales didn’t trot out on to the field to confront the umpire, kick dirt or throw his cap, as former Major League manager Lou Pinella might have done, but could be heard loud and clear protesting the call from the dugout.

“He was out!” Gonzales shouted. “He (SHS shortstop Michael Chavez) was waiting for him!”

A day later when reached by phone, Gonzales was still upset.

“You don’t like to blame the umpire, but that play cost us five runs,” he said. “That would have been out number three and ended the inning. All five runs scored after that play.”

Prior to that play, the Warriors were still in the game, trailing 4-0. He said the umpire’s call took the steam out of his team, which had started the game shaky but seemed to be settling down.

“Daniel (Gonzales) started pitching a lot better. He started the game a little cold, but he was shutting them down,” he said.

Warned that publishing such comments could get him in trouble with the NMAA, which has issued sanctions against coaches who publicly disparage umpires and officials, Gonzales didn’t seem to mind.

“I’m never afraid to take the heat,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to stand up for your kids.”

Cobre (12-3 overall, 4-0 in district play) posted two runs in the first inning and two more in the second. The Indians were making good contact off pitcher Gonzales, but fielding errors by the Warriors aided their cause, as well. After the alleged blown call, they broke the game open and led 9-0 after four.

Meanwhile, Cobre pitcher Felix Nuñez was dealing. He mowed through the Warriors lineup, allowing just two base runners on a walk and hit batsman.

After starting the season playing above .500 ball, the Warriors have hit the skids. The loss dropped their record to 7-10 overall and 1-3 in district.

“Right now our biggest thing is struggling with errors. Making a lot of mistakes that shouldn’t be happening at this part of the season,” Gonzales said.

The coach attributed the problems to his team’s youth and inexperience.

“We’re starting freshmen and sophomores. That inexperience, especially in district play, hurts you. They’re nervous; you can see it,” he said. “It’s one of those things. They play good in practice. I don’t know if it’s the pressure of playing a game, or the pressure of playing district, but being young is costing us.”

Fate has not been kind to the Warriors either. They lost their starting catcher, Jonathan Baca, to a thumb injury just before the season started. Starting third baseman Justin Padilla is out with a knee injury, and pitching ace Charles Peralta lost eligibility early in the season.

The Warriors were making due and started the district season off with an 8-2 win over Hatch Valley. But since then they’ve lost four straight, including a non-district game to Class 1A Magdalena (see story page 12).

“We took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and everything looked great,” Gonzales said of the game against the Steers. “But we started making errors and never recovered after that.

“Hats off to Magdalena. They showed up and played. They kept their composure and played confident.”

It’s time, now, for the Warriors to regain their composure, Gonzales said. He’s not willing to give up hope that the Warriors can still earn a state playoff berth.

“We still have six key district games coming up. If we can come out and win five of six, I think we’ll be OK,” he said.

Next up for the Warriors is a home doubleheader against Hot Springs on Tuesday, April 17. The first game is scheduled for 3 p.m.

 


-- Email the author at tslast@dchieftain.com.